Ecological bistability and evolutionary reversals under asymmetrical competition

Fabio Dercole, Regis H J Ferriere, Sergio Rinaldi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

44 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

How does the process of life-history evolution interplay with population dynamics? Almost all models that have addressed this question assume that any combination of phenotypic traits uniquely determine the ecological population state. Here we show that if multiple ecological equilibria can exist, the evolution of a trait that relates to competitive performance can undergo adaptive reversals that drive cyclic alternation between population equilibria. The occurrence of evolutionary reversals requires neither environmentally driven changes in selective forces nor the coevolution of interactions with other species. The mechanism inducing evolutionary reversals is twofold. First, there exist phenotypes near which mutants can invade and yet fail to become fixed; although these mutants are eventually eliminated, their transitory growth causes the resident population to switch to an alternative ecological equilibrium. Second, asymmetrical competition causes the direction of selection to revert between high and low density. When ecological conditions for evolutionary reversals are not satisfied, the population evolves toward a steady state of either low or high abundance, depending on the degree of competitive asymmetry and environmental parameters. A sharp evolutionary transition between evolutionary stasis and evolutionary reversals and cycling can occur in response to a smooth change in ecological parameters, and this may have implications for our understanding of size-abundance patterns.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1081-1090
Number of pages10
JournalEvolution
Volume56
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2002

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ecological balance
Population
resident population
coevolution
mutants
phenotype
asymmetry
population dynamics
Population Dynamics
life history
Phenotype
Growth
mutant
parameter
population (ecological)
ecological parameter
Direction compound

Keywords

  • Adaptive dynamics
  • Asymmetrical competition
  • Bistability
  • Density-dependent selection
  • Evolutionary reversals
  • Population cycles
  • Population dynamics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Genetics(clinical)
  • Ecology
  • Genetics

Cite this

Ecological bistability and evolutionary reversals under asymmetrical competition. / Dercole, Fabio; Ferriere, Regis H J; Rinaldi, Sergio.

In: Evolution, Vol. 56, No. 6, 2002, p. 1081-1090.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Dercole, Fabio ; Ferriere, Regis H J ; Rinaldi, Sergio. / Ecological bistability and evolutionary reversals under asymmetrical competition. In: Evolution. 2002 ; Vol. 56, No. 6. pp. 1081-1090.
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